Sustainable digitisation in style
Anne-Christine Polet, best known as A-C, is the founder of Stitch, a tech start-up founded in 2021, that harnesses 3D technology and software as a service (SaaS) products to reduce the fashion industry’s carbon footprint.
Traditional fashion production and sales methods often rely on excessive physical prototypes and samples, resulting in significant waste and inefficiency. Polet hopes Stitch can empower designers to create and market their collections digitally, helping to save the planet and enabling them to be at the cutting edge of innovation.
‘The fashion sector is set to double carbon emissions by 2030,’ Anne-Christine Polet tells LS:N Global. ‘It’s a triple threat that is coming from rising consumption, cheaper goods and shorter use time. Most fashion calendars take forever, with no insight or consumer data in order to make the right decisions. It’s these underlying processes that we drastically need to change. Technology will be part of the solution.’
Empowering the next generation of working-class creatives
Welsh writer Tori West has been on a quest to abolish professional gatekeeping in the creative and publishing industries since she launched Bricks magazine in 2014, at the age of 21. A proudly queer and working-class-led publication, Bricks covers social politics in fashion, music, arts and culture while aiming to encourage opportunities for marginalised creatives who don’t have the financial means and connections to join the industry. West herself grew up in a small council estate in South Wales, which was once voted one of the most deprived places to live in the UK.
On top of being a print and online magazine, Bricks is also an educational resource for young creatives who don’t know where and how to start. For as little as £3.50 ($4.48, €4) per month, its Learner Platform offers job opportunities, business tips, advice, life lessons and access to a members-only podcast on navigating the creative industry. From how to build a portfolio to learning how to deal with imposter syndrome, Bricks wants to empower emerging creatives while keeping it real.
‘The industry seems inaccessible for most because entry roles require a relevant degree or work experience in a similar capacity, which leaves many of us having to intern for free,’ West told Hundo. ‘This means only those with a lot of disposable income or who come from a wealthy background and can get help from family members can afford to live in London and work for free.’
Reimagining the sex shop experience
Husband-and-wife duo Justin and Chelsea Kerzner are on a mission to rebrand sex as a sport with their NYC-based shop Contact Sports. ‘While we’ve watched other industries evolve over the past decade, sex shops have largely still felt uncomfortable and uninspiring,’ they tell LS:N Global.
The couple flipped the script with their store by investing in a tasteful space resembling a chic interior design boutique with limited merchandise. ‘As every other sex shop carries thousands of products, we’ve launched Contact Sports with 70,’ they say.
Rebranding sex as a wellbeing practice to move it away from the taboo, Justin and Chelsea Kerzner aim to attract customers and business partners into their shop. They hope players in the entertainment, advertising and hospitality industries will see the opportunity in upgrading the retail experience for sex-positive products. ‘It shouldn’t be difficult for a brand like Nike to partner with us, or a private equity investor to back the business,’ the Kerzners say.
Regenerative luxury stays
Former academic and current vice president of the Tschuggen Collection group of hotels, Götz Bechtolsheimer aims to elevate luxury Swiss hotels to an exceptional level of sustainability. As the family-owned group celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023 (the board’s president is Bechtolsheimer’s mother, German billionaire Ursula Bechtolsheimer-Kipp), the focus is now on highlighting its latest sustainable initiatives. Opened in 2017, the Valsana Hotel & Apartments are located in the alpine ski resort village of Arosa and are powered entirely by alternatives to fossil fuels. The hotel uses a pioneering geothermal energy ice battery to heat all three of its buildings. Since 2019, the Tschuggen Grand Hotel has also declared itself climate neutral, through investments in projects facilitated by the international non-profit My Climate.
The elite guests who stay at the Tschuggen Collection’s resort can enjoy organic products in the spa area, Michelin-star-winning plant-based cuisine, and adventures that connect them with nature. Bechtolsheimer insists each venue meets the standards of the most luxurious hotels (with prices to match), but with a regenerative perspective. ‘We are only justified as green pioneers if we can show that this also works economically,’ he told Gault & Millau. ‘We’re on the right track.’
Chatty concrete cutting carbon emissions
Professor of civil engineering at Purdue University, Indiana, and CEO of WaveLogix, Luna Lu has developed technology to make concrete speak via sensors monitoring its strength. Her smart-tech start-up began integrating nano-silica materials into concrete to facilitate self-healing cracks in 2021. Lu’s WaveLogix is now taking this further with sensors embedded into the concrete providing engineers with precise and consistent data about the material’s strength and repair needs.
Following a trial on a stretch of the I-35 highway in Hillsboro, Texas, WaveLogix’s REBEL Concrete Strength Sensing System devices are expected to hit the market in 2023. The technology's success would have an impact far beyond simplifying concrete work. ‘Traffic jams caused by infrastructure repairs have wasted four billion hours and three billion gallons of gas on a yearly basis,’ Lu told Purdue University News. ‘This is primarily due to insufficient knowledge and understanding of concrete’s strength levels.’ Lu's sensors have the potential to reduce traffic congestion caused by roadworks, minimise travel time and significantly curb carbon emissions.
Crafting exquisite drawing and writing tools that stand the test of time
In a world often dominated by fleeting trends and disposable goods, Makers Cabinet specialises in a collection of high-quality drawing and writing tools that will be used for generations.
Founded in 2017 by Central Saint Martins product design students Noah Bier and Odin Ardagh, the brand began as a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to manufacture and sell Høvel, a reimagined pencil sharpener made with high-jewellery finesse. With their commitment to craftsmanship and ingenuity, the duo has subsequently created a variety of luxury items including a ruler, a drawing compass and a pencil holder.
‘We are motivated to demonstrate that an alternative object creation system is possible, that products should be designed to last and that it is not sustainable to produce objects with planned obsolescence,’ Ardagh and Bier tell LS:N Global.
Taking online wellbeing practices to the real world
Berlin-based entrepreneurs Ann-Kathrin Grebner and Yasmin Poloczek built the digital health platform My INNER HEALTH Club after experiencing burnout in their respective media and retail careers. The duo aims to inspire individuals to manage their health and wellbeing and proactively avoid exhaustion. ‘With strains on the Western healthcare system – especially, but not only, since the pandemic – now is the perfect time to take steps to preserve your health and prevent illness in a holistic way rather than treating it when it’s already gotten you,’ Grebner told Ignant.
The platform offers daily content addressing lifestyle-related health issues such as low energy, weak immune systems, digestive disorders and stress. Grebner and Poloczek curate content from health experts worldwide, covering diverse subjects such as yoga, meditation, gut health and traditional Chinese medicine. My INNER HEALTH Club aims to serve as a tool that empowers individuals to prioritise their physical and mental health and seamlessly integrate wellbeing practices into their daily lives.
Indigenous cleaning and cleansing solutions
We think Nood, an Australian personal and industrial cleaning brand that draws on wild-harvested, indigenous ingredients, is one to watch for its focus on upholding and celebrating culture.
Anthony Wilson, Nood’s founder, is of Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna descent and the business, based in Adelaide, Australia, is a majority-owned Aboriginal company. It began in 2019 as a B2B enterprise focused on crafting cleansing products for the hospitality sector that incorporated botanicals from Australia’s diverse flora, including quandong, Kakadu plum and lemon myrtle. In 2021, the brand diversified and stepped into the high-end personal body care market with a range including shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. While product names in Nood’s cleaning range are in the Kaurna language as a tribute to Wilson’s mother, the body care line uses his father’s Ngarrindjeri dialect.
Wild harvesting is essential to Nood, as the brand believes it’s the optimal way to draw out the potency of its indigenous ingredients. However, this process can prove tricky and time-consuming; Wilson highlights the fact that the First Nations community represents only 1% of the farming industry across Australian counties. Through his work, Wilson continually learns about native flowers and foods, and sees this learning journey as one of the critical aims of Nood. ‘We try to teach as much as we can about indigenous culture through the brand,’ he told Cosmetics Design Asia.
A lifestyle magazine speaking through women
Dutch stylist and brand consultant Bonnie Langedijk unveiled her online publication Hurs in 2022 as an antidote to mainstream women’s magazines. This solo venture took her two and a half years to develop, with Langedijk finessing the right format and aesthetic to set Hurs apart in a saturated market. ‘I felt frustrated with the way women were portrayed in women’s media,’ she told Fashion United. ‘It felt like society had moved forward, but women’s media remained stuck in the past.’
Hurs is spread over a website, social media content, a biweekly newsletter, curated product edits and a private group chat. Covering an extensive range of topics from fashion and art to design, travel and food, Hurs aims to build a community of women who can talk to each other on the same level in a filter-free environment.
Magazines ‘have lost the ability to serve us, instead continuing to celebrate the same few,’ Langedijk told WWD. ‘They’ve exchanged editorial independence for advertising dollars, confused the concept of community for readership and changed absolutely nothing of their structures and formats for decades, leaving the space strikingly homogeneous as a result.’ Hence why Hurs hopes to make its community of women feel seen and heard like never before.
3D-printed protein futures
Asked about his favourite part of being CEO of Steakholder Foods, Arik Kaufman tells LS:N Global: ‘No doubt the tasting. We have a very good chef who works his magic on all dishes.’ The Israel-based deep-tech food company is dedicated to revolutionising meat production by 3D printing cellular agriculture meat products.
The first Nasdaq-listed cultivated meat company, Steakholder Foods is a sustainable and slaughter-free business that has successfully printed steak, chicken nuggets and highly marbled beef morsels. Its recent collaboration with Singaporean cultivated seafood firm Umami Meats saw the company take on its biggest challenge yet: printing the world’s first whole-fillet cultivated fish.
In 2022, Steakholder Foods joined the UN’s Global Compact initiative, affirming its commitment to the organisation’s Sustainable Development Goals, including food security, carbon footprint reduction and responsible use of water and land resources.
The firm dreams of a future where its products will be widely accepted and integrated into the food industry. ‘We plan to continue working to reduce the cost and improve our printers to be able to print any kind of meat,’ says Kaufman.